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PREVIEW | Werder Bremen vs. VfL Wolfsburg

Matchday five of the Bundesliga has arrived and it’s already apparent what the aspirations of both Werder Bremen and VfL Wolfsburg will be this season. After a mixed start to the season, the latter will be looking to hoist themselves from tenth place and into Europa League contention by next May. The former, however, will be fighting just to stay afloat after five defeats on the bounce in all competitions. Moreover, this horrific start has put pay to head coach Viktor Skrypnyk’s tenure, leaving Bremen in free-fall.

Form

The aforementioned five Bremen defeats haven’t been pretty. Conceding 16 already over that modest handful of outings is a horrendous record. There’s really no other way of saying it. Further to that, the defeats included a 4-1 against Borussia Mönchengladbach and a 6-0 against league leaders Bayern Munich. But there were signs of encouragement for Bremen in their midweek game against FSV Mainz, who had to come from behind in the dying seconds to seal a dramatic late win. In addition to that, the thrashing at the Allianz Arena is the only game in which Die Werderaner have failed to score, so the goals are certainly there.

As for Wolfsburg, it’s tricky to make anything of their form at present. A competent opening day victory at FC Augsburg was followed by two goalless stalemates and a resounding 5-1 home hammering at the hands of Borussia Dortmund. Winless in their last three, the game against Bremen could mean one of two things – a chance to regain some of the confidence that will no doubt have been shattered on Wednesday night, or further embarrassment against an improving side. Naturally, having said all that, it’ll probably end in a draw.

Team news

For Wolfsburg, star midfielder Luiz Gustavo is doubtful due to injury, while other such absentees like Joshua Guilavogui and Sebastian Jung are still out indefinitely. Elsewhere on the pitch, Dieter Hecking has a decision to make regarding who will start alongside Jeffrey Bruma at the heart of the defence: Robin Knoche and Philipp Wollscheid are the likely candidates.

For Bremen, Alexander Nouri will have been encouraged by what he saw midweek against Mainz and the incentive to make changes won’t really be there. However, after Aron Jóhannsson’s suspension, Bremen U23 striker Ousman Manneh could start up front.

Possible lineups

Werder Bremen (4-2-3-1): Jaroslav Drobný; Theodor Gebre Selassie, Lamine Sané, Niklas Moisander, Robert Bauer; Clemens Fritz, Florian Grillitsch; Izet Hajrović, Zlatko Junuzović, Serge Gnabry; Ousman Manneh

VfL Wolfsburg (4-2-3-1): Koen Casteels; Vieirinha, Jeffrey Bruma, Philipp Wollscheid, Ricardo Rodríguez; Maximilian Arnold, Yannick Gerhardt; Jakub Błaszczykowski, Julian Draxler, Daniel Caligiuri; Mario Gómez

Prediction

Given that Bremen are improving and Wolfsburg are seemingly in decline, this could well be the moment that either reignites either side’s season or plunges it deeper into disrepair. However, purely on the notion that Wolfsburg have a better quality squad with the ability to recover from such a nasty defeat, I think Hecking’s men will win 2-0 here.

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